Democratic AGs sue Trump administration over LGBTQ health protections rollback

A coalition of 23 Democratic state attorneys general are suing the Trump administration over a rule that scraps ObamaCare’s nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ patients.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, New York Attorney Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the lawsuit alleges that the new rule allows providers and insurers to discriminate against certain vulnerable and protected populations.

The administration’s rule, released in June, will roll back implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557, which prohibits federally funded health programs and facilities from discriminating against patients based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.

Advocates and health groups said the policy will make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender and nonbinary patients, as well as women who have had abortions.

The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unlawfully ignored the harms that the rule will impose on vulnerable populations. 

The lawsuit claims that the rule is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.

The attorneys general also argue that HHS failed to justify why it abandoned its prior policy, which, among other things, explicitly prohibited discrimination in health care and required health care entities to provide meaningful language assistance services to individuals with limited English proficiency. 

The lawsuit also argues that since the rule was released in the middle of a pandemic, it will impose “unjustifiable barriers to health care on vulnerable populations at a time when access to care is as crucial as ever.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting some of our most vulnerable residents, yet this White House is moving forward with a rule that puts these communities at even further risk,” Healey said in a statement. 

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York. It comes after the Supreme Court on June 15 ruled that employment discrimination on the basis of transgender status or sexual orientation is unlawful.

The attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia also joined the lawsuit.

Washington state announced a separate lawsuit over the rule on Friday. Advocacy groups sued to block the rule in June. 

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